The Museum Blog

Category: Enriching Experiences

Spooky Science: Disappearing Ghosts

Disappearing Ghosts

Materials Needed:

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts (made of corn!)
  • Dark colored marker
  • Pipette or paintbrush
  • Small cup of water
  • Tray/plate/cookie sheet

Instructions - Set-up:

  • Use your marker to draw ghosty faces on several biodegradable packing peanuts
    • Invite your young scientist(s) to draw some faces, too!
  • Place ghosts, small cup of water, and pipette on a tray, plate, or cookie sheet

Instructions - Activity:

  • Explain to young scientists that today they are going to make some ghosts disappear!
  • Invite them to touch the ghosts and guess what material was used to make them
    • Talk about the texture, the weight, and ask if it reminds them of anything they’ve seen/touched before
  • Show them how to use their pipette and tell them to carefully drip some water onto their ghosts
    • What happens?!
      • You can also use a paintbrush to carefully drip water
  • Eventually they will notice that their ghosts are shrinking and “disappearing” into a pool of water!
    • Ask them what happened? How do they think that happened? Do they think the ghosts really disappeared? Where did they go?!

The Science:

Although it may have LOOKED like the ghosts were disappearing, they were actually dissolving! The packing peanuts are made of corn, which dissolves in water. If you put a handful of these packing peanuts into a jar of water and shook it, they would completely dissolve--leaving some cloudy white water behind.

Packing peanuts are traditionally made of styrofoam which takes millions of years (we think!) to biodegrade and become dirt in the earth. These packing peanuts biodegrade almost instantly, making them much more environmentally friendly--and they also make an awesome science experiment!

Bonus Activity: Monster Ice!

Can’t get your hands on biodegradable packing peanuts? No worries! Try this fun experiment instead.

Materials Needed:

  • Plastic container (freezer safe)
  • Water
  • Googly eyes or other Halloween trinkets (spider rings, erasers, etc)
  • Small cup with warm salt water
  • Pipette or paintbrush
  • Tray or cookie/baking sheet
  • Red & yellow food coloring (optional)

Instructions - Set-up:

  • The night before the activity, or several hours before, put water into your plastic container.
    • Add yellow and red food coloring to make orange, if you’d like
    • Put in the googly eyes or other Halloween trinkets
    • Freeze!
  • Place plastic container with ice* on a tray with cup of warm salt water & pipette/paintbrush
    • *You might be able to get the ice out of the container, if not--start with the ice still in the container and as young scientists add water & salt, you will easily be able to get the ice out!

Instructions - Activity:

  • Invite young scientists into the experiment area
  • Ask them what they see!
  • Encourage young scientists to use the pipette or paintbrush to drip warm salt water onto the ice and “free” the halloween trinkets
    • Ask: What is happening?
    • Mention that the water is warm and has salt in it--ask how they think this might help to melt the ice
  • Continue adding water until the trinkets are unfrozen!

The Science:

  • Salt lowers the freezing point of water. Ice melts faster when salt is added as the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, this is known as freezing point depression. The more salt you add the lower the freezing point.
    • This is why we use salt on roads in the winter to help melt the ice and make them safe!

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9th Anniversary of Alzheimer's Cafe

By Paula Rais, CMNH Vice President of Development and Community Engagement
paula@childrens-museum.org

In 2011, the Children's Museum of New Hampshire launched the first Alzheimer's Cafe on America’s east coast. Alzheimer’s Cafés provide a safe, supportive and judgment-free setting for people living with dementia and their loved ones to enjoy an outing in the community, socialize, and make new friends. This program exemplifies the museum’s goal of working with communities to meet existing needs and demonstrates an innovative, concrete way to provide community based solutions to these problems. The Museum’s vibrant inter-generational environment proved to be an ideal setting and the Café became very popular. Dozens of similar programs sprouted up in communities around New England modeled after the Museum’s program.

At the Café each month, we share stories and tell jokes, listen to musical performances and interesting presentations, or celebrate holidays and birthdays. Some attendees became friends and socialized outside the monthly Cafe gatherings. According to Dr. Lokvig, the founder of the first Alzheimer’s Café in the USA, “In spite of the name ‘Alzheimer’s Café’, we leave the disease at the door and celebrate the person beyond dementia. The Café is a chance for everyone to step out of their daily roles and share a positive experience in a supportive environment.”

Since Covid-19 struck in March 2020, our Café has not been able to meet. I know that our Café families are missing each other's companionship and support, and we miss seeing them at the Museum. When it is deemed safe for our staff and visitors, we will explore options for resuming this important program. Please contact me if you would like more information about the Alzheimer's Cafe or want to be on our email list to receive updates.

In the meantime, allow me to honor the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the Alzheimer's Cafe at the Children's Museum, the many families who shared their lives with us, and the generous volunteers, performers, and funders who helped make it all possible.

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FoodWorks: Healthy Frozen Treats

Foodworks is such a fun program that we host at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It promotes healthy eating, families cooking together, and delicious food that you can find at your neighborhood Hannaford!

Today we are sharing two recipes for summer time treats: Frozen Yogurt Bark and Frozen Watermelon Popsicles. Both recipes are easy to make, and are perfect cold treats for hot summer days! Summer is a great time to enjoy ice cream and popsicles, but these two recipes offer a slightly lower sugar and lower fat way to enjoy a cold dessert, and could easily be added to your summer frozen dessert routine, which we all need when it's this hot outside!

Both of these recipes only require a freezer to complete, and both are kid-friendly, so if you have eager kitchen helpers in your family, this is a great way to include everyone in some no fail cooking fun. Also, you do not need popsicle molds to make the Watermelon Popsicles!

If you want to try both recipes, it may be easier to make the yogurt bark first because the watermelon can get messy, and may be easiest to do outside. If you opt to use cookie cutters for the watermelon recipe it results in some extra pieces that need to be eaten, so this activity can double as a snack time.

First - gather your ingredients

For the frozen watermelon popsicles:

  • Watermelon- If you need a smaller portion, try the pre-cut watermelon at Hannaford
    Skewers, chopsticks, or popsicle sticks
  • Cookie cutters

For the yogurt bark:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Optional: coconut or soy based yogurt

Optional toppings:

  • Berries
  • Granola
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Jam
  • Cereal

For both:

  • Wax paper
  • Pan or tray
  • Freezer space

Yogurt Bark Directions:

  1. Prep your pan or tray by putting down a sheet of waxed paper and a quick spray of cooking oil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of plain and 1 cup of vanilla yogurt to create a lower sugar, kid-friendly version of the bark, or simply choose a yogurt flavor you know your family will enjoy
  3. Add in any toppings you would like to add
  4. You can add the toppings to the yogurt once it’s on the tray if you would like to make some bark with toppings, and some plain
  5. Use a spoon or spatula to carefully add the yogurt to the waxed paper on the tray
  6. Place the tray in the freezer for about 4 hours or overnight
  7. Break up the bark to serve. You can save it in a freezer safe container.

Notes: we tried making the bark with soy based yogurt, and coconut based yogurt, both froze well, and were easy to break up and serve. We used Greek yogurt, and it made a tart treat, but be sure to use any yogurt that your family prefers. The Greek yogurt was nice and thick, so it froze well, but any yogurt should work! Please keep in mind that some of the toppings, like the berries, may create a greater risk of choking when frozen, so be sure to supervise as needed. Recipe inspired by Stonyfield Yogurt: Stonyfield Yogurt Bark Recipe

Frozen Watermelon Popsicle Directions:

  1. Prep a pan or tray with waxed paper
  2. Cut watermelon into slices- about the same thickness as you would serve to eat fresh
  3. If children are helping, set each person up with a work station- a cutting board or tray with waxed paper works well
  4. Use cookie cutters to press the watermelon into desired shape (we made stars, triangles, and circles), and remove seeds with a skewer or toothpick
  5. Carefully add a stick using a skewer (can be sharp), chopstick, or popsicle stick
  6. Place each popsicle on the lined tray and place in the freezer
  7. The extra watermelon scraps can be eaten as snack
  8. Serve any time you want a healthy refreshing treat!

Notes: This may be the easiest recipe ever aside from a little messy watermelon juice. Creating shapes with cookie cutters is completely optional- you can simply put the watermelon onto the skewer with the rind if you would like. The texture of the watermelon works really well as a frozen treat! It is very similar to the texture of an ice pop- easy to take a bite, though quite cold when it first comes out the freezer. If you opt to use popsicle sticks, use the wooden, un-dyed sticks. Colorful craft sticks tend to bleed the dye when wet, and it may not be food safe! We experimented with adding some melted chocolate chips over a few of the watermelon slices, and it tasted great, but was just a little messier to eat. Recipe reference: https://www.chopchopfamily.org/recipe/frozen-watermelon-popsicles/

We hope you enjoy these refreshing summer treats, and stay cool! Thank you to Hannaford for sponsoring our Foodworks program at CMNH!

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First Friends at Home: Our Favorites!

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week I shared some tried and true Baby Storytime favorites! I hope you enjoy!!

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!

Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray!

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap
Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin

Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in!

Sugar Babies (action rhyme)

Roll, roll sugar babies
Roll, roll sugar babies
Push! Pull! Clap-clap-clap!

“ “
Hot! Cold! Clap-clap-clap!

“ “
Up! Down! Clap-clap-clap!

Little Bird (action song/bounce)

Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

I saw a little bird go hop-hop-hop
I asked that little bird to stop-stop-stop
I went to the window to say: How do you do?
He wagged his little tail at me and away he flew!

Popcorn (bounce)

Popcorn, Popcorn
Sizzling in the pan
Shake it up, shake it up
Bam! Bam! Bam!

Popcorn, Popcorn
Now it’s getting hot
Shake it up, shake it up
Pop! Pop! Pop!

Colors in the Air (prop song)

Colors, colors
Colors, colors
Floating in the air!
Floating in the air!

Red, Orange, Yellow
Green, Blue, Purple

Floating in the air!
Floating in the air!

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small
This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow
This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye!

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Wacky Art: Windsock Craft

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

I love this windsock craft! It’s an art project that is accessible to all ages and abilities - and you get to sneak in a little bit of science. Here’s how to make your own windsock:

Materials Needed:

  • Paper (printer paper, cardstock, construction paper, etc)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Crepe paper streamers or tissue paper cut into long strips
  • Tape or glue
  • A stapler
  • A hole punch or scissors
  • String or yarn

Directions:

  1. Invite little ones to decorate their piece of paper with the markers or crayons. If you have stickers or stamps, you could use those, too!
  2. Once their paper is all decorated, flip it over so that you are looking at the back
  3. Tape or glue the streamers onto the bottom end of the paper
    1. If you used glue, give it a few minutes to dry
  4. Pick up the paper and curl it into a tube/windsock shape
  5. Staple on the top and the bottom
  6. Hole punch or cut small holes on either side of the top
  7. Put your string through the holes
  8. Hang up your windsock!

The Science:

  • The science behind windsocks is pretty simple...if you put your windsock outside, you’ll be able to tell a few things:
    • If the wind is blowing
    • How much the wind is blowing
    • Which direction the wind is coming from!

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First Friends at Home: Things that FLY

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week’s First Friends Friday was all about things that can FLY! We did a bunch of rhymes about bugs, insects, and birds!

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!

Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin
Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

Cuckoo Clock (Action Rhyme/Bounce)

(Rock babies back and forth and then bounce them up in the air for each cuckoo)

Tick-tock, tick-tock
I’m a little cuckoo clock!
Tick-tock, tick-tock
It’s one o’clock…
Cuckoo!

Tick-tock, tick-tock
I’m a little cuckoo clock!
Tick-tock, tick-tock
It’s two o’clock…
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! 

It’s three o’clock…

It’s four o’clock…

Etc!

 Beehive (action rhyme)

Here is the beehive
But where are the bees?
Hiding inside where nobody sees!
Soon they’ll come buzzing out of the hive…
One! Two! Three! Four! Five!
Buzzzzzzzzzz!

I’m a little Blue Jay (bounce) 

I’m a little Robin  and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little Blue Jay and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little Chickadee and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

I’m a little Cardinal and I wiggle all day
If you get too close to me I’ll FLY away!

Wise Old Owl (action rhyme)

There is a wise old owl,
With a pointed nose,
He has pointed ears,
And claws for toes!
He sits in a tree,
And looks at you,
Then he flaps his wings and says:
Whoooooo! Whoooooo!

Everyone can shake! (prop song)

Everyone can shake shake shake
Everyone can shake shake shake
Everyone can shake shake shake
And now it’s time to stop!

Everyone can tap tap tap
Everyone can tap tap tap
Everyone can tap tap tap
And now it’s time to stop!

Everyone can clap clap clap
Everyone can clap clap clap
Everyone can clap clap clap
And now it’s time to stop!

Everyone can wave, wave, wave
Everyone can wave, wave, wave
Everyone can wave, wave, wave
And now it’s time to stop!

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small

This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow

This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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Pete the Cat Party- Painting Guessing Game

Colie Haahr Fullsizeoutput 43Ca

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Thank you for checking out our Pete the Cat Party video! If you followed along with the storytime, you know that Pete the Cat LOVES his white shoes, and his red shoes, and his blue shoes! He is even okay with his wet shoes! This blog post will walk you through setting up an art project guessing game, where kids can guess what Pete stepped in to change the color of his shoes.

Materials:

  • Paper- cardstock, construction paper, sketch paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Water cup
  • White crayon
  • Drawings prepped ahead

Directions:

Prep Ahead: For this project, you will need to draw some pictures with a white crayon ahead of time. Each drawing should be an item that is mostly one color, and that we can imagine might change the color of Pete’s shoes. Here are some ideas:

  • Green: Spinach, Peas, Avocado
  • Blue: Blueberries
  • Purple: blackberries, grapes 
  • Red: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries 
  • Orange: Oranges, Carrots 
  • Yellow: Buttercups or Dandelions 
  • Brown: Coffee, Chocolate Cake
  • Black: Olives 
  1. Draw a picture of each item on a piece of paper using a white crayon
  2. Set up the water colors, paintbrush, and water cup for painting
  3. Play the game! Ask, “what do you think Pete the Cat could step in to change his shoes a different color?” Take a few guesses. 
  4. Now, choose one color and paint one of the pieces of paper, and see what happens! The picture you made with the crayon should magically appear
  5. The white crayon creates a wax resist, so the watercolors will not soak into the paper, and you can see the drawing in white.
  6. You can give away what color to paint each item, for example, “try painting this one red, and guess what is in the picture,” or let kids choose a color, and then ask “Is that what color strawberries are, or are they a different color?” 
  7. Play the game for each picture you made ahead of time.

Optional: kids can try coloring with white crayons to create a wax resist, then painting over it. 

Optional: you can also do this activity using tape to create an outline of Pete the Cat, and paint over it, then take the tape off when the painting is dry to see the design. 

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Backyard Birding- Make a Bird Feeder

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Backyard birding is a great way for kids to practice making observations, and to learn about ecology and biology! Learn how to make 2 easy bird feeders to attract special birds to your yard, especially Orioles, who like oranges and other fruits.  

If you have not tried backyard birding before, there are a few things to think about before you start. First, setting expectations for seeing birds. Even if you do a great job setting up a feeder with food that birds like, you may not see birds right away, or draw in unique birds right away. It’s a good idea to let kids know they may not see birds as soon as the feeder goes out. When scientists do research, they do a lot of observation and patient waiting to see results!

The food you provide is important, too, and birds need water! It may take some time to establish your backyard as a consistent food source for birds, so don’t give up if birds do not appear right away. All animals need water, so if you are able to provide clean water for your backyard animal friends, then you may see more of them more often. Birds do not have hands, obviously, so they use their beaks for many different things the way we use our hands. Different birds have different beaks that are adapted to where they live and what they eat. There’s a great book called Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III  that helps to illustrate this to kids. When you put out food for the birds keep in mind not only what they eat, but how they eat it and whether they can access it with their beaks.  

Something else to keep in mind is the season. Some birds are only going to be around for a few months of the year because of migration, and others will be around throughout the year. Some birds migrate, or move, to warmer areas for the winter so that they can find more food. Migrating is a behavioral adaptation, or change in behavior, that helps an animal to survive. Some foods are harder for birds to find in the winter, like insects and fruits. The temperature gets too cold for some birds, but surprisingly many birds can withstand very cold winter temperatures. Spring is a great time to observe birds, and you may even get to see some nests being built. 

Location is important, too. If there is not a lot of natural habitat near your backyard, you may see fewer bird species. To see “new” or special birds, you can try visiting their habitat, like a local conservation area. The Bellamy Preserve in Dover is a great place to see birds, and since there are open fields as well as the bay nearby, you can see shore birds and forest birds on the same trip. Ideal bird habitats may also be ideal tick habitats, so be mindful of your clothing choices, and in the springtime boots will be necessary for the mud. 

Finally, bird identification can be really tricky even for grown ups! Instead of focusing strictly on bird identification, try setting up an observation chart that kids can use independently. This chart can include the day, time,  number of birds, and what the bird was doing. For example, at lunch time Sally Scientist saw one bird that was hopping, and three birds that were flying. She didn’t see any birds that were eating or drinking, so they must not have known it was lunch time. All silliness aside, noticing whether animals eat when people eat is a great observation!  A chart that kids can check off might work well: 

Sally Scientist’s Observations:

Day/Time

Birds Hopping

Birds Flying

Birds Eating

Birds Drinking

Monday lunch

/

///

0

0


Making the Bird Feeders: 

In the video you will see 2 different ways to make a bird feeder. One style of feeder is made by adding seeds to a paper towel roll or a pine cone, and it is a little messy, but can be done outdoors to cut down on spills. The second style of feeder is made by using an orange as the food rather than bird seed, and this is done to attract Orioles because they like to eat fruit. This can be done by carefully attaching an orange half to a branch, or creating a small feeder that fits an orange inside of it, and has a perch for the birds to sit on while they eat. 

Materials Needed:

  • Oranges
  • Seeds
  • Paper towel tube
  • Peanut butter, sun butter or crisco 
  • String 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Hole punch
  • Small jar or yogurt cup
  • Stick for a perch (sturdy)
  • Optional: jelly - this can be messy, and less messy oranges work well!

Directions: 

  1. Tube Feeder: The first feeder design is simple, but can be a little messy. For this feeder, you will need nut butter or crisco, a paper towel tube, string, and bird seed 
  • Use a tray or plate to hold the bird seed (a small mound should work)
  • Cut a paper towel tub in half so that one tube makes two feeders
  • Carefully add nut butter or crisco to the outside of the paper towel tube. 
  • Once the tube is mostly covered, gently roll it in the birdseed. The birdseed will stick to the tube, but keep it on a work surface like a plate until it’s time to hang it up
  • Use a string to hang up your feeder by threading it through the tub and tying the two ends in a knot. Hang your feeder up in a tree 
  1. Orange Feeder: For this feeder, you need an orange cut in half, sticks, a container, hole punch, and string to hang it up. The orange feeder is designed to attract Orioles because they enjoy eating fruit, especially oranges! Orioles also like jelly (not jam), but it is a little stickier and messier, so we suggest trying oranges first.
  • First, cut the orange in half so that the birds can get to it
  • The easiest way to make an Oriole feeder with oranges is to use a sturdy branch and poke the orange half directly onto a tree
  • Another method is to use a small container, like a yogurt cup, to hold the orange. Use a stick to add a perch, add holes with a hole puncher, and use a pipe cleaner or string to hang it up.

Links:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/types-of-bird-seed-a-quick-guide/?pid=1142

https://www.audubon.org/news/make-orange-feeder-orioles

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/lifehistory

https://feederwatch.org/blog/one-peanut-can-go-a-long-way-for-a-carolina-wren/

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